I’ve recently released my latest VST synth, Phonec, which has a certain character that can be sometimes hard to explain. So here I’ll try to expand on the ideas that led to the creation of this strange little synthesizer. The idea is based on the sound of an obscure electronic instrument from the past which has been overdubbed a few times on a VHS tape and then played back a decade or two later after sitting in an attic, forgotten about for years. It’s a sound I remember hearing as a kid sometimes right at the beginning of a video tape. In some cases it would be the weird sounds that accompany the logo of the film company. Fortunately we can find several examples of these on youtube. Here are a few:
Outdated educational videos provide another source of this strange magic:
I like the eerie quality of these sounds. When a tape is recorded over a few times it can give the perception of being melted or smeared, especially at the beginning of a recording. And if too far gone, the sound can start to get lost.
I created Phonec to emulate this effect, and I believe it mimics this effect just enough to provide a window into this strange world. The real thing however, can never be recreated digitally, so of course I still have a great interest in using a VCR as a tape recorder for further experimentation. But it’s a lot more complicated than it sounds. In order to do this, you need a VCR that allows separate audio inputs that aren’t linked to the video input. A lot of standard VCRs require a video signal in order to record audio, but there are some out there, probably older Sonys, that have the ability to function as a tape recorder. I haven’t come across one yet, but given the unconventional nature of this interest of mine, and the fact that most people probably see absolutely no value in these relics, I’m hoping to discover one at a thrift store eventually.